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KXLY4 Fire Watch: Wildfires ravage northwestern U.S.

WESTERN U.S. - Wildfires are rapidly gaining ground throughout the Western United States. Montana, Oregon, Idaho and Washington are all experiencing massive fire activity. Here's a round-up of some of the major fires, as well as just how affected each state is. According to NOAA, 5,490,878 acres have been burned in wildfires so far this year across the nation. That's already up almost 2 million acres from the yearly average, which is 3,505,217. An interactive map of all wildfires in the United States can be found here

Washington:

There are currently seven major active fires in the state of Washington, burning a combined 149,052 acres. 

The largest is the Diamond Creek fire, which is currently covering 105,000 acres north of the town of Winthrop. It was caused by humans on Sunday, July 23rd and has continued to gain ground ever since. The flames crossed into Canadian land on August 29th. Fire crews have it 65 percent contained as of Wednesday, and expect to have it completely under control by mid-October. Level 1 evacuations are in place for the communities of Lost River, Mazama, and Rendezvous. Residents of these areas should be aware there is a potential threat to the area and make plans for possible evacuations.

The Norse Peak fire is burning 43,482 acres near the town of Cliffdell, Washington. Over 300 firefighters are working to protect threatened homes and structures, and so far none have been destroyed. The flames have closed the Pacific Crest Trail from Chinook Pass to Snoqualmie Pass, as well as evacuated The Crystal Mountain Resort. Level 3 evacuations have been issued in both Yakima and Pierce counties. More information can be found here.

The Jolly Mountain fire is currently burning 24,514 acres near Cle Elum. It was started by lightning on August 11th, and 775 firefighters are now working to contain the flames, and keep homes in the area safe. Evacuations of all three levels are in place in areas surrounding the fire, and hundreds have been forced to leave their homes. A map of evacuation levels can be found here. An informational meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Walter Strom Middle School in Cle Elum.

Oregon:

There are currently 19 major fires burning a combined 406,567 acres in the state of Oregon. 

The Chetco Bar fire is burning a staggering 176,770 acres in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness. Over 1,500 firefighters are battle the flames which began on July 12th. It's currently only 5 percent contained. Level 3 evacuations have been issued in the very Southwestern portion of the state. An interactive map of evacuation notices can be found here. The Red Cross evacuation center is located at the Nazarene Church at 1600 Chetco Ave. in Brookings, OR (541)-600-6068.

The Eagle Creek fire is burning 30,929 acres. It began Saturday afternoon in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, after after a 15-year-old teen from Vancouver, Washington was reportedly playing with fireworks. The fire grew to 3,000 acres overnight that first night. As of the morning of September 5th, the fire had grown significantly and had spotted across the Columbia River into Washington near Archer Mountain. Level 3 evacuations have been issued in Washington's Skamania County. More information can be found here. The historic Multnomah Falls Lodge in Oregon, built in 1925, is being protected by Oregon State Fire Marshal’s structural firefighters. An unused residential structure was found to have burned, along with 4 outbuildings, but no further structures have been lost.

Montana:

There are almost 30 major fires burning in Montana, currently blazing over 500,000 acres, and causing thousands to evacuate their homes in recent weeks. According to the Northern Rockies Coordination Center, over one million acres have burned so far in 2017 alone. If you or someone you know is seeking shelter, call the Red Cross of Montana at 1-800-272-6668. 

The Rice Ridge fire has been burning since mid-July when it was sparked by lightning, and has scorched 119,857 acres near Seeley Lake. That's almost 200 square miles. It's only 2 percent contained, and nearly 700 firefighters are currently fighting it. Over 1000 structures are threatened, but as of Tuesday morning, none had been lost. Various evacuation notices and road closures have been issued. More information on evacuation warnings can be found here. 

The Lolo Peak fire is burning 48,337 acres, and is 31 percent contained. It began on July 15 from a lightning strike. Over 500 structures are threatened, and ten have been lost-- two homes, and eight outbuildings. There are currently no Evacuation Orders in place for the Lolo Peak Fire.

The Sprague fire is burning 13,343 acres near West Glacier. It's nowhere near the largest fire currently burning in Montana, but on August 31st, it claimed the popular Sperry Chalet in Glacier National Park. People who live in the area, or were visiting the park from the south end of Lake McDonald north to Logan Pass were evacuated last Sunday, but the majority of the park remains open. Current evacuation information can be found here. 

Idaho:

There are currently eight major fires burning in Idaho, covering 146,035 acres. 

The Hidden fire is burning 10,689 acres near Hidden Ridge and the Elk Summit Guard Station in Northeast Idaho. It began on July 10th from a lightning strike. The Nez Perce-Clearwater and Bitterroot National Forests are working together in the long-term management and strategy for this fire. Trail closures in the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests have been issued for public safety, but no evacuations notices could be found. 

The Andy's Hump fire started burning August 30th on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests' Moose Creek and Lochsa/Powell Ranger Districts, roughly five miles east of Lowell on the north and south sides of Coolwater Ridge. The fire doubled in size on Tuesday, and is now over 1,000 acres, spreading to the northwest. A public meeting will be held Friday, September 8, at 6:00 p.m. a the Fenn Ranger Station Visitor Center. More information can be found here. 

The Hanover fire was caused by lightning on August 1st. It's burned 24,854 acres south of Grangeville, ID and northeast of Riggins, ID, but is 88 percent contained as of Wednesday evening. No evacuation notices could be found for this fire.

DISCLAIMER: This list is, by no means, a complete round-up of all fires burning in these states, or the entirety of the damage done. If you'd like more information, check the following resources. 

https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/

https://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/nfn.htm

 


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